Over 4,000 primary and secondary school pupils in Kenya’s Machakos County have been reportedly impregnated during the period of lockdown for COVID-19 pandemic.
This sudden surge in reported teen pregnancies within Machakos County, a data released during the commemoration of the Day of the African Child showed, is threatening to cut short the pursuit for education by vulnerable girls “with latest statistics now showing 4,000 school-going children had been impregnated since mid-March.”
There is an obvious surge in “the number of newly reported teen pregnancies with coronavirus-related restrictions top among them the closure of schools to avert a catastrophic spread of the virus that has since spread to over thirty counties,” Kenya-based Capital FM reported quoting the data released by Machakos Children’s Officer Salome Muthama.
Muthama who the statistics was picked from cases recorded in all county hospitals, told Capital FM News the number could be higher.
“During this coronavirus pandemic we do have 4000 impregnated girls. These are so many innocent girls,” she said.
Salome noted most of these cases are as a result of defilement by close family members.
Masinga sub-county leads with the number of documented cases at 705, followed by Athi River at 568.
She adds that about 200 of these girls are aged 14 years and below.
“How can a 12 year old girl become a mother?” she posed.
“All the people who have impregnated these children needs be arraigned but it is becoming a challenge. We need special court sittings to address and deal with these cases,” Salome appealed.
Machakos Senior Resident Magistrate Charles Ondieki who had attended the function revealed the biggest impediment in prosecuting the cases was shortage of advocates handling the matters.
“Cases that involve children demand advocates but the problem now is to get them and as a magistrate I am not allowed to go get them,” said Ondieki.
The newly released data comes at a time Kenya has been listed among countries with the highest teen pregnancy rates with 82 births per 1,000 births.